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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 79, South Dakota State 73

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NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

There were times when this game seemed like a blowout in the making and times when it seemed like a meltdown in the making, but at the end of the night Texas prevailed 79-73 against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Texas started the game on a 19-0 run, then later in the first half the Jackrabbits went on a 13-0 run of their own, from there on out it was a series of mini-runs by each team that kept the game somewhere between interesting and nerve-wracking depending on your point of view.

It’s 1 AM and I’ve been working all night, so let’s get to it.

The Good

Dylan Osetkowski

There is no doubt Osetkowski is playing these games like they’re the last high-level games he’ll ever play. DO was shooting well from all over (except the free throw line), he was defending well, and he snagged a pair of incredibly important steals in the second half to pace Texas to the win. 26 points, 4-6 from three, and some stout defense on Mike Daum in the waning moments of the game really drove home what DO can be at his best. He wants this season to continue for as long as possible and he’s putting in the work to make it happen.

Three-Point Shooting

Texas shot 38 threes and made nearly 40% of them. Maybe the shot selection can be quibbled with, but any team is going to win a lot of games when they’re hitting 40% from deep. The fact that they did it from FIBA distance is impressive, though given where Courtney Ramey is comfortable launching from I’m not sure he even noticed the line moved. Imagine what this number would’ve been with even an average output from Jase Febres, he was 1-7 on the night.

Effort

This squad is probably disappointed to be in the NIT; not that they think they should’ve made March Madness, but that they didn’t reach their goal. When I went on Chad & Kevin earlier today, I made the point that it remains to be seen if the team would come out and give the effort that showed they were interested in making a run. They silenced that pretty quickly with a 19-0 run to start the game and when the Jackrabbits clawed back and took the lead in the second half, this team didn’t fold. Execution had issues, but effort was without question.

Jericho Sims

Despite his lack of overall numbers, Sims played a quality game tonight. He was active in creating post positions, he defended without fouling, he snagged some rebounds. He was something close to what I had hoped he would be this season. If he can do that the rest of this tournament, it will help a lot.

It’s Complicated

Elijah Mitrou-Long

Long had a good offensive effort - 9 points on 3-4 from three - and didn’t go into hero ball much, but his defense was bad. I appreciate that he’s trying to make a play, but he helps off his guys too much. Part of the reason guys like David Jenkins and Skyler Flatten were open for threes is because Long was too far away from his man. If a couple of those shots fall, I’m probably grumbling much louder about this particular point.

Kerwin Roach II

Roach hit some big shots and had a pair of blocks so he contributed some positive plays, but he also had some really braindead turnovers in the second half and made a couple of careless passes that nearly went the other way. There was one drive in the second half where he barely made an off-balance shot that was extremely high-difficulty, which, great I guess, but Febres was wide open in the near corner and Roach didn’t even so much as glance his direction. Things like that remind me that he’s still predetermining a lot of his moves rather than reading the defense in the moment.

The Bad

Post Entry Passes

Sims repeatedly got deep post position only to watch a guard pump fake then pass around the horn. The coaching staff put in a nice little fake screen/slip play that got Sims going to the bucket but the guards rarely rewarded him with the ball. Jericho Sims put in work down low and the guards should have sent the ball his way more often. It was almost as if they only trusted Osetkowski, because they would get him the ball in contested situations with a higher frequency than Sims. If I’m Jericho, I’m quietly seething about the lack of entry passes. Also I’m shaving my mustache, because it’s not the 70s and I don’t own a creepy van.

Three-Point Defense in Zone

Man defense was decent-ish, but the Jackrabbits knew how much Texas was keying on Daum and moved him around in the zone to the point the 2-3 zone was almost laughable on the edges. Somebody - I’m using Hepa as an example but he was far from the only one - would have Daum in the corner, then follow him up the sideline while Daum would go into a playcall involving screens and end up back in the same corner except Hepa would be at the free throw extended which doesn’t do much except shade Daum from a late afternoon sunbeam. The 2-3 zone turned into a weirdly chaotic man defense a number of times, fortunately for Texas the Jackrabbits weren’t able to capitalize often enough for it to matter.

The Last Six Minutes of Offense

At the 6:28 mark it was 70-67 Texas.

At the 1:59 mark it was 72-71 Texas.

Neither team is going to enjoy reliving those possessions.

Texas moves onto the next round against the winner of Xavier/Toledo tomorrow, date/time of the next game is TBD but it will be in Austin so...you know, good seats still available! It’s possible Texas could play the first three games of the NIT at home if Alabama can’t get past Norfolk State and Colorado, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.